Since I was old enough to hear conversations about the death penalty, it has been a debate that has continued to the present time with few-to-no changes.
I am in favor of the death penalty. However, being in favor of the death penalty does not come without mitigating factors and due to my research I believe the death penalty laws require some not previously considered, conscientious revision(s).
Most opinions in opposition to the death penalty are emotional and political; based on questions regarding overstep of government into life and death determinations. "Ultimately, the moral question surrounding capital punishment in [America] has less to do with whether those convicted of violent crime deserve to die than with whether state and federal governments deserve to kill those whom it has imprisoned…”, Bryan Stevenson, JD, Professor of Law at New York University School of Law.
The most compelling statement I found in favor of the death penalty; " The death penalty honors human dignity by treating the defendant as a free moral actor able to control his own destiny for good or for ill; it does not treat him as an animal with no moral sense.", Bruce Fein, JD, Constitutional Lawyer and General Counsel to the Center for Law and Accountability.
To have a meaningful discussion about the death penalty and come to an independent decision as a citizen, a person is obligated to know what the current law says on the matter.
Begin with; which crimes qualify for the death penalty punishment? The chief charges under the death penalty state that a defendant must satisfy the felony murder rule qualifying the defendant to be charged with the death penalty; in reaching a conviction of first degree murder wherein it is determined there was premeditation and extreme malice and/or cruelty present, the death penalty applies. Aggravating factor proves malice and/or cruelty in the commission of the murder. The aggravating factor under the felony murder rule defined in the legal sense does not mean ordinary aggravation; applied by the law it means egregious or conspicuously bad, so heinous an act that the public is morally provoked and offended [aggravated].
Robert Blecker, a nationally known retributivist [retributivist, is a term of art, one not found in the dictionary – the root word is retribution] advocate of the death penalty and his views “…can alienate both sides of the debate on the politically divisive and morally complex issue of capital punishment.” He believes that the crimes and the populations on death row need to be re-evaluated. Not all killings are alike in the attitude of the killer and/or the experience of the victim.
For example, Alan and Mike held up a liquor store. The owner attempted to trigger an alarm and Alan fired at him with a pistol intending only to frighten him but unfortunately killed him. Even though Alan did not intend to kill the owner, both Alan and Mike will be guilty of the owner’s murder under the doctrine of the felony murder rule and the fact that Mike is considered equally responsible for the outcome even though he did not pull the trigger. Blecker states that there are inmates on death row who are there under just those circumstances; they are the 70% discussed in the next paragraph.
Robert Blecker said that 80% of the inmates on death row do not deserve to be there and he bases this statement on the result of 20 years of research where he held over 2000 hours of interviews with death row inmates; 70% of the 80% are on death row due to killing during the commission of other crimes. He believes the top 10% (+/-) should be fast tracked to